EXCLUSIVE: Washington state moves to remove community notification, restrictions for sex offenders

"...(if) they can start to roll it back here, they can start to roll it back everywhere else."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
The Post Millennial has learned that Washington’s Sex Offender Policy Board is working with the state’s Sentencing Guideline Commission in an attempt to roll back restrictions and sentence guidelines for sex offenders, claiming “these laws actually undermine public safety, the exact opposite of what lawmakers and the public so confidently assume they accomplish.”

This is on the heels of community blowback from Washington Democrats including Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, releasing level 3 sex offenders, those deemed the “worst of the worst” and most likely to re-offend from high-security facilities to halfway houses in unsuspecting neighborhoods.

Additionally, at the end of the last legislative session, Democrat Governor Jay Inslee line-item vetoed a provision that would have informed neighbors if such an individual was to be placed in their community.

Former Washington Rep Cathy Dahlquist told The Ari Hoffman show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, that the Sex Offender Policy Board “…is made up of a group of folks that were appointed by the governor's office to serve on this board to provide recommendations to the state legislature and they are tasked right now with realigning the sentencing guidelines for sex crimes.”

A draft of the recommendations for the Model Penal Code obtained by The Post Millennial from a Sept. 21 meeting reveals that the entities are claiming that “those convicted of a sex offense have some of the lowest recidivism rates compared to individuals convicted of a non-sex offense” adding “This is also true for individuals convicted of sex offenses against children.” The document did not cite the pertinent data.

According to the document, “…recidivism rates for these offenses are as low as or lower than for other sex crimes.” Despite acknowledging that “Sex offenses are ‘distinctively unsettling and injurious’ justifying exceptional prevention efforts…punishments like registration, public access, community notification, and residency restrictions conclusively do not reduce recidivism rates.”

The entities claimed that “Reduced reintegration, social support, stable living, steady employment, all undermine rehabilitative efforts and may actually increase registrant recidivism.”

The entities also argued against “Community notification”, claiming that public access to the registry and community notification rarely leads individuals to take meaningful precautions to protect themselves.”

“These systems create a false sense of security and divert attention from more significant sexual dangers, increasing risk to the public” and the entities argued for “background checks” instead.

Additionally, the entities claimed that removing the restrictions would serve as a cost savings. “Registration laws are expensive to implement. Including registry management, GPS monitoring, website technology, etc.” are “Estimated to cost several millions of dollars per year to run and maintain a registry.”

In a state that has been known for being lax on crime and supporting defunding the police, the entities claimed that the cost “Reduces available police resources for responding to emergencies and investigating crime.”

According to the entities, “Unintended consequences” could be “Homelessness resulting from restricted housing” such as “Overbroad limits on employment and residency due to misunderstanding information from public registries.”

Rather than informing neighbors of a dangerous predator in their midst, the entities advocated for sex offense registries to be “…reserved exclusively for the use of law enforcement” and that “…community notifications should be prohibited.”

The entities also advocated for “Other ‘burdens’ and restrictions directed specifically towards individuals convicted of a sex offense should be eliminated,” and recommended against “GPS monitoring, residency restrictions, limits on Internet access, etc.”

Dahlquist told Hoffman that the new recommendations are so extreme, “…they're basically saying even background checks that they do for volunteers for folks that want to volunteer in their child's school, that those are bad ideas” and that “…the only people that should even have the notification are law enforcement, but it should be private and not public.”

She added that the entities are advocating to completely eliminate the sex offender registry.

Dahlquist continued, “What they're trying to do is align the sentencing of the sex criminals to non-sex offenses. Meaning that they're taking the seriousness out of both crimes, but they're taking the sexualized part out of it and they're saying they're the same crime, which we know they're not.”

She noted that Brad Meryhew is the chair of the committee and a defense attorney who represents people who have been charged with sex crimes.

Glen Morgan, of watchdog group We The Governed, told The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI that in 2021, 37 Republican and Democratic members of the National Association of Attorney Generals signed a letter in response to the proposals regarding the Modern Penal Code opposing similar rollbacks of sex offender regulations. Noting that Washington's AG Bob Ferguson, who is currently running for governor, did not sign the letter, Morgan said, "He is actually in favor of rolling back the laws as they apply to sex offenders. There's no way that he's going to ever be in favor of making things more transparent."

"His office is consistent. It's not just that they destroy public records at every turn. It's that they also want to keep secret from the public who these violent criminals are, where they are, where they're going and they want to keep it secret. And the only outcome from that secrecy is more victims."

When asked why the push to roll back the restrictions, Morgan said, "Washington State was the first state in America to ever require a sex offender registry and public notice about sex offenders and the rest of the country, including the red states, all imitated Washington."

"I still think that there's a lot of bitterness in that community that grew...and the idea of thinking that if they can start to roll it back in Washington...just like the idea started here, (if) they can start to roll it back here, they can start to roll it back everywhere else."
It was revealed in January that Washington State Democrats, including Inslee and Ferguson, were releasing Level-3 sex offenders from McNeil Island to be resettled into residential neighborhoods in halfway homes operated by a private company. The inmates were called "the worst of the worst" by the federal government and included convicted pedophiles who are the most likely to re-offend.
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